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9 Major Dos and Don’ts of Vintage Shopping

Vintage shopping

There's nothing like combing through the racks at your favorite store only to come across the most amazing dress or perfect pair of pants in just your size. With vintage shopping though, things aren’t always as straightforward. Peep these expert tips to help you make the most informed decision whether you’re browsing online or looking in person.


1. Do comparison shop for the best condition.

Now that many websites and stores are selling vintage online, you can compare not only pricing, but condition as well, informs Bella Bag Director and Founder Cassandra Connors. “However, keep in mind that some items might be more expensive than others because they show significantly less wear and tear, such as color fading and worn out interior and corners.”

2. Don’t just hit up your local vintage shop.

Fashion Stylist and Consultant Colin T. McDonald suggests thinking about checking out estate sales before heading over to your nearest vintage shop. “Store owners tend to mark up merchandise almost 50% for profit,” he notes. Also, if you live in a major metropolitan area, do travel about outside your city, as prices will be drastically lower in neighboring towns

3. Do find a great tailor and specialty dry cleaner.

It’s usually essential to alter and clean vintage clothing, so finding a great tailor and specialty dry cleaner is an absolute must, says NYC based fashion stylist Hillary Cooper. “Sizes are also totally different now than they were years ago and zippers, buttons or hems may need to be fixed or replaced. A vintage garment should always, always, always be cleaned with TLC due to the delicate and older fabrics used.”

4. Don’t spend money on something you can’t fix.

If you’re unsure as to whether or not you or someone else you trust can easily repair any problems or manage stains that may be present on the item, don’t but it, advises vintage blogger and reseller Lisa Rowan of Quarter Life. “You’ve got to be super confident in those fix-it skills for it to be worth it.”

5. Do know your measurements.

Shopping at a place that doesn’t exactly have a dressing room? In addition to taking a tape measurer with you, former Hollywood Stylist and co-author of “Affordable CoutureLinda Arroz recommends saving your measurements on your smart phone or on a card in your wallet. “This will help you decide fast if it’s the right fit or not,” she says.

Online vintage boutique owner Lauren Ashley of adds that a good trick is to come dressed in an outfit you can slip clothes over, like a tank top and leggings.

6. Don’t expect perfection.

Pre-owned and vintage bags ARE previously used. Remember that when you pick out the purse you like so that variations and flaws won’t disappoint you, reminds Connors. “These are, after all, what makes the item so special!”

7. Do check the reputation of the company you’re purchasing from.

Find out if they have great testimonials and feedback from not only their own clients, but from other reputable, objective sources too, urges Connors.

8. Don’t forget to ask about the store’s return policy.

Most vintage clothing is final sale, no returns, points out Arroz. While some places may offer a return for store credit, be sure to ask in advance to avoid disappointment later on, she advises.

9. Do bring a friend along.

Last but not least, take a friend with you, preferably the type who turns into a diva/divo when hungry, suggests Lauren. “This will ensure that you don’t spend too much time in one store. Trust me, it’s easy to get lost in some!”